Yesterday someone I have known basically my whole life passed away. Last week he went in for heart surgery, the kind that is performed all the time, and due to complications, today his family is making funeral arrangements. He was in his early sixties.
It is so human of us to wonder how we will face death. Am I ready? Am I square with God? Do I have emotional or spiritual debts to be paid before I go? Who would even show up to my funeral? If it was open mic what would people say? (That is a rhetorical question!) Will my character hold up? Or will my failures and faults prevail? And which friend will be singing “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” under her breath?
Lately I have been taking a closer look my character. Piece by piece I have been holding it up to God’s light, turning it over, examining it from every angle, hoping to understand why it is as it is. I honestly don’t know why God’s truth shines through parts of my character to illuminate the world around me while other shards are cloudy and block God’s light. The dark parts have come from the life I’ve lived and the choices I’ve made. I am pretty sure not even Norwex could shine that stuff up. But I am trying and am trusting God to help me.
I started reading the book, Didn’t See It Coming by Carey Nieuwhof. (Thank you, Stephen!) Talk about examining your character. Nieuwhof understands how easily character can be eroded and the importance of safeguarding it. He outlines seven challenges we all face and offers effective ways to rise above each challenge. I am highlighting passages left and right in this sucker. That character flaw right there? Yeah, I have that. And that one. And, embarrassingly enough, that one too.
Why is it so hard to fix my character? I truly, genuinely, certifiably want to…
But it is so easy to compromise just a little. And then little more. And then more.
I feel like Paul, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it” (Romans 7:15). This could be my life verse!
Nieuwhof writes, “The antidote to compromise is simply this: work twice as hard on your character as you do on your competency.” I was in school, college, and grad school working on my competency for more years than I’m willing to admit. (I think it was my way of making up for being a high school dropout.) If you count retreats, seminars, conferences, and professional development, we are talking well over twenty years of education. How many years have I worked on my character? Do fractions count? The good news is that if I live long enough to work that hard on character, I might actually be alive for the maiden voyage of the Enterprise!
This brings me to the half and double connection. If I work twice as hard on my character and compromise half as much each day for the rest of my life, maybe mic night at my wake will be filled with hallelujahs! Or maybe a Bee Gees song. Or someone quoting the opening credits to Star Trek! Or someone dressed in a Starfleet uniform singing a Bee Gees song. Or maybe, just maybe, one or two people who will say, “I saw God’s light through her.” That is boldly going to the final frontier.